… all the people were assembled together, they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth.
~ Alma 24:17, Book of Mormon ~
When one comes to the awareness of their powerlessness over substance use, and the subsequent inability to manage one’s life, it behooves the individual to follow through and recognize the greatest need of reliance on God. Not only recognize our greatest need to rely upon God, to fully come to a place and realize our need to surrender ourselves and our lives over to His divine care. This sums up the foundational principle of any 12-step program.
There are a variety of ways an individual surrenders their will over to the care of God. Today’s inspiring message comes from an Ancient MesoAmerican ceremonial sacrifice. It is contained in the Book of Mormon and comprises Alma chapter 23-24.
Stained swords made cleaned and buried deep in the Earth
Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren.
~ Alma 24:12 ~
Coming to Christ is much more than seeking God’s forgiveness. Surrendering our will and life over to God. It is a ceremonial sacrifice where we engage in a renewal of faith and hope. This occurs through the sacred ordinance of Baptism (see Romans 6:1-23, ESV). The efficacy of baptism cleanses us. It is a form of purification ceremony and ritual.
For the people to be so-converted that they willingly buried their swords deep within the earth as to not take them up again is a remarkable commitment to turning over their lives to God.
These Lamanites weren’t satisfied with stashing their swords in the closet or covering them with a little dirt. When they decided to change their ways, “they did bury them deep in the earth.” (See Alma 24:16-17.) Not just IN the earth, but DEEP IN the earth! The ways of the past were no longer an option. They knew it, and they new that the Lord knew it.
This ceremonial sacrifice involved action on their part. It also showed great courage. faith, and commitment to no longer return to their previous way of living. However, the story of these ancient people does not end with their conversion and commitment. They still had to face their enemies.
Facing our enemies with renewed faith, hope, and strength
And their hatred became exceedingly sore against them, even insomuch that they began to rebel against their king, insomuch that they would not that he should be their king; therefore, they took up arms against the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
~ Alma 24:2 ~
The gravest tragedy is those who return to retrieve their weapons of war in order to engage in battle. Recovery from substance use disorder means that we learn to refrain from returning to our previous habits, despite the temptations that come to us.
What many may not realize is that when we surrender our lives and will over to God’s care, we are also giving Him permission to come to our defense. We learn to act in more honorable ways. We develop a way to walk with integrity. Our spiritual growth moves us from a life of reproach to a life worth living.
As we read the story of the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi: We come to where the Lamanites came against them. The people rather lay their lives down than to take up arms and engage in bloodshed to honor their commitment and sacrifice.
Through this act brought about another change. Those who came to destroy the people began to see that there was no resistance. Some of them began to awaken to their own sins and treachery. Those who saw the travesty of their own nature put down their own swords.
We resist the urge to return to our former ways. Instead, we seek God’s divine guidance and counsel. And, when those who come to tempt us, revile us, and attempt to cause us to engage in old behaviors; we stand resilient and resist them. Despite the slaughtering of our character.
What are the swords we need to deeply bury?
In recovery, and in life, there are those things that we need to rid ourselves from. These “swords” that need to be deeply buried vary from individual to individual. However, they include:
- Disposing of items which we have used while in active substance use
- No longer going places where we have engaged in using behavior
- Disassociating ourselves from people who continue to use and may enable ongoing use
- Filling our time with activities that are productive in helping us heal and not destructive
- Pairing up with an accountability partner so that each keeps the other accountable to not go back to our old behaviors and old way of living
And, despite those who may come against us and our recovery, the more we stand in peace with our convictions and surrendering our will and life over to God’s care; they will come to realize our recovery is genuine and real.